Should we continue to fight for labor reform?

With all the changes happening on campus, with the promises of the new catering company, should United for Better Dining Services UBDS) continue?

For those who do not know us, United for Better Dining Services, or UBDS, is a group of students who have engaged in discussions with the dining services workers, Colby administration, and Sodexo management about the working conditions in the dining halls, with the goal of working together toward a more just community. Almost two years ago, they started a fight against Sodexo as a corporation and then we shifted to fighting for better working conditions
within Colby.

But now everything has changed. Yes, we know the workers. But since Bon Appétit is our new dining service, should we continue to fight labor justice?

The answer is YES.

In the end, when one considers our small community at Colby, it does not matter what the name of the company is. Regardless of outsourcing being problematic, we were not fighting because a certain dining service controls our food, but because of our love for the dining hall workers. For me, they became part of my Colby family. And my love, our love, the love UBDS feels, will not change because the company changes.

Sometimes activism on campuses is reactionary and that is okay. However, sometimes there is need for a continuous dialogue. It is not that changes are without problems. But, recognizing that transitions are slow, we should make sure that Bon Appétit addresses problems so the workers and everyone in the Colby community have stable working conditions. Two years ago, we protested to raise the workers’ wages. Now it is time to slow down while staying alert.

We have the opportunity to step back from the business of campaigning and focus on community building. We can learn more about each other. We can indulge appreciation of the dining hall workers and all the amazing things they have been doing for us on everyday basis.

That does not mean that we will rest on our laurels. Of course, we will watch and collaborate with Bon Appétit and make sure to hold each other accountable. Even more importantly, we will keep in mind the aim we have been fighting for: a more just community. Maybe this is not the most exciting part of the fight and we are not going to make the front page, but the fight will continue.

So, how do we continue to fight for labor justice? Through building connections–through thanking the workers, little actions, being considerate–through love.

One Comment

Leave a Reply